By Allen Palmeri
PALMYRA—The heart of prayer is to persevere through years of faithful intercession to the point where others will ask you to do more.
Terry Buster, pastor of First Baptist Church here, has the heart of prayer.
Since the spring of 2001, he has been a part of a Bethel Baptist Association prayer group that has met at 7:30 a.m. every Tuesday to lift up pastors and their families, churches, and revival in both the area and the nation. Out of that solid foundation, Buster was asked to serve as associational prayer coordinator, a role he has now accepted for 2010.
“Right now we’re running probably 10-12 a week,” he said. “This has kept on. There have been times when there’s only like four, five, or six of us, but over the years it’s building. We’ve got some of our younger pastors and ministers, associate pastors, they come, they’re involved. You can tell that God’s in it, because He’s kept it going.”
The application now for Buster is to incorporate prayer into even more of the church life at First Palmyra, the congregation he has shepherded the last 15 years. It is the county seat church of Marion County that runs about 120 in Sunday worship.
“God puts something in your heart, and He gives you opportunities to kind of tie it in and to use whatever He’s working within your life to get you to go on ahead and move forward,” he said.
A visit by Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Prayer and Spiritual Awakening Specialist Bob Loggins in the spring to help build prayer momentum resulted in the church’s pianist, Sandy Tucker, moving out of her comfort zone. The practice of praying over the church’s facilities, including chairs where various people would be sitting, really made an impression on her.
“It is very rewarding, and it’s totally out of my realm,” she said. “I’m a musician. God and I, it was a tug of war. I just felt really impressed that this was something I needed to be involved in, and yet I don’t consider myself wise or learned or a leader necessarily. It’s been wonderful. I don’t regret it at all. It just is different for me.”
After Mother’s Day, Tucker wound up leading a small group of women who had husbands who were either unbelieving or non-attending. The group continues to meet for Bible study.
“We pray intentionally for each other, and we still talk about praying Scripture,” Tucker said. “I just think that’s really important.”
Meanwhile, the church’s Sunday School director, Christine Crawford, has played an active role in helping to transform First Palmyra’s Wednesday evening Bible study into a prayer meeting. The formal transfer took place in September and has been ongoing with about a dozen members interceding.
“Terry generally has an outline of things we need to pray about that are specific to church,” Crawford said. “For instance, Wednesday night we were praying for the youth individually, and then some other areas of the church.”
Participating in Wednesday night prayer has changed Crawford’s fellowship with church members.
“I have grown closer to fellow believers that are in the prayer group, and am confident that I could go to any one of them and say, ‘I’m having a hard time here. Help me out,’” she said.
Buster calls the Wednesday night time “a work in progress.” His hope is that people would take home some of the written notes and use those along with the church’s bulletin as a prayer guide during the week.
There are other ways that First Palmyra prays. One is through a church prayer chain that touches lives by means of phone calls, emails, and text messages. Another is a deacon prayer ministry where one deacon prays for two families every week.
In the association, the vision laid out by Director of Missions Al Groner is for Buster to help form a prayer team that would band churches together in prayer “as a binding force, as a guiding force, to get things done,” he said. “To help train, to help encourage, to help provide opportunities for prayer—in some ways doing the kinds of things that Bob would be doing on a state level.”
Loggins said he is being blessed by First Palmyra’s heart for prayer that is being expressed through the leadership of its pastor.
“He has the typical Southern Baptist church, with a desire to spend time with God,” Loggins said.